Why parenting guilt is a waste of your energy and how you can change your mindset to drop the guilt
Just to clarify here is the guilt definition, “a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong”. When it comes to parenting there is a good chance that the majority of parents feel guilty about something, whether it be because we didn’t breast feed, hand make every meal, spend enough time, buy a present they wanted and anything else the media says we 'should do'. But there are some things that simply cannot be helped, and being a 'part-time parent' is one of them.
There are two main reasons that parents might classify themselves as “part-time".
Separation from the other parent
I have in the past felt guilt over both these things, but then I got wise. I realized that even when my children are not with me, I am still their mother, I still worry about them, love them, and do things for them. In fact I am always their parent and so this silly label of being part-time is utter nonsense.
Working Parent Guilt
I realized that I worked not because I loved doing long hours and spending time away from home, but because like most people I have a mortgage, I have bills, I have kids that want food and schooling (and expensive things) and I like taking my kids on holidays. All these things require money. And to make money I have to work. It’s a no brainer. I can’t be a stay at home mum and live the life my children and I want to live. So they learn that mummy cannot do everything, they learn to pitch in and help, they learn they can rely on other people when I am not around, they learn to be a little more self-sufficient. They learn how to do things for themselves, a pretty darn good thing in this day and age I think! (Of course this is all age relevant and the lessons change as the children grow!)
So what can you do? Quit your job and lose your house, maybe find a better paying job? Be real about your options and listen to yourself. If there is nothing you can change right now why feel guilty, you are not doing anything wrong, and it will just make you feel more trapped. If there is something you can do transform your guilt to motivate you to make the change!
So basically drop the guilt. You are doing the best you can, everyone knows that, and if you talk to your children they will also know that. When you do get to spend time with them do what you can to make sure it is quality time, play, laugh and have fun, get them to help you around the house in a fun way so that you are not doing it all on your own and you have a little more time together.
Separated Parent Guilt
Guilt over being a part time parent when you are separated is actually pretty selfish. Think about it now. You have a right to see your children, and so does your ex. And more importantly your children have a right to see you and the other parent too! If you had your kids 100% of the time your ex and your children would suffer. Long term you would suffer too because you would not have any “me time”, your children would resent you because they miss the other parent and things basically would be terrible (ask any parent whose ex is totally absent how they feel about the lack of support, and how the children miss that parent, even if they are a complete dirtbag)
So again drop the guilt. It is a waste of your energy and will taint the time that you do get to spend with! Love the time you spend on your own. Use it wisely, to catch up with friends, with odd jobs around the house, with yourself, with sleep or work. Whatever YOU need. Make the most of it so that when you do have your children you can give them as much of your time as you can.
Replace all your guilt with GRATITUDE! Be grateful that you have a job that pays the bills, (even if it is a terrible job and you barely make ends meet), be grateful your ex wants to see the children and your children want to see him/her, be grateful for the amount of time you are given to focus on other things. There are many parents who are so stressed out because they never have that time. Most of all, be grateful that you have your children and that you cherish the time you do get to spend with them.